I pick a goal that’s pleasing to think about, and sounds impressive to my friends, but may not be the most realistic to achieve. Once, I adopted the goal of completing a marathon – never mind that I’d never been able to run more than 5 miles at once without developing pain in my feet, ankles, shins or knees. This goal sounded very impressive, and I enjoyed the mental picture I had of crossing the finish line with a smile on my face and my arms raised. But the goal was completely unrealistic for me, and I gave up on it within a few weeks.
If you, like me, suffer from this condition of unrealistically ambitious goal setting – try this experiment. Before you set any goals, write down the 3-5 most important things in your life. These 3-5 things might involve your work, family, money, weight, religion, relationships, fitness, hobbies, travel, or any number of other things.
Once you’ve established your top 3-5 priorities, save your most ambitious goal for the areas that top your priority list. If you decide to set a health goal, for instance, and health is one of the top priorities from your list – great. It might be a good moment to let a little ambition seep into your goal.
If, however, you’re setting a health goal, but “health” didn’t make your top five list, then perhaps a smaller, less ambitious goal would be in order.